No matter what size your company is, a formal orientation is the best way to welcome new employees and introduce them to your organization. Orientation can range from a few hours to several days, depending on the amount of information to cover and the complexity of the position. Ideally, orientation should take place as soon as possible after the employee’s start date. This will create a positive first impression that is consistent with the image you conveyed during the hiring process. It will also help the employee get familiar with your organization and will open a dialogue for any questions that the individual may have.
New employee orientation, or “onboarding,” is an important piece of HR and employee management. A formal orientation is essential to setting a new hire up for success. It’s also a continuation of the corporate image and values you portrayed during the interview process…think of it as your second chance to make a great impression for your company or organization. Employee orientation can also be designed for current staffers who are being promoted to a new position within the company and need a similar type of program.
Along with the initial welcome from the hiring manager and staff, your employee orientation should typically include five key components: new hire paperwork, company policies, compensation and benefits, the employee handbook, and training.
First, let’s discuss paperwork. Orientation is the best time to complete and collect certain paperwork, such as the federal Form I-9, which verifies eligibility for employment. Employees must complete Form I-9 no later than their first day of work for pay. Employees should also complete a Form W-4 for tax withholding, and any required state income tax withholding forms. Remind new hires to bring appropriate documentation needed for these forms, such as driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, Permanent Resident cards, and/or passports.
Next, broadly review your company policies regarding attendance and leave, employee conduct, and safety and security. Cover expected hours of work as well as absenteeism, meal and break periods, and time off, including what types of notice you require. Be sure that the employee understands the rules regarding dress code, telephone and computer use, and other expectations. You should also explain necessary safety and security policies and procedures, and distribute building keys, employee identification, and parking passes as appropriate.
A thorough onboarding program also covers compensation and benefits in as much depth as time allows. Provide details on pay periods, direct deposit, payroll deductions, health insurance, and any other benefits to which your new employee may be entitled. Prepare a benefits packet ahead of time to give to the employee and let him or her know who in your organization can answer benefits questions. Of course, a new employee will need time to review his or her options for things such as health insurance and retirement savings…so communicate enrollment deadlines as well.
Next, provide your new hire with a copy of your Employee Handbook. To a great degree, many of the policies and benefits information you’ve discussed will be repeated in the handbook. However, your handbook is one of the most important internal documents because it lays out your expectations, policies, and procedures in writing. Even if you’ve reviewed aspects of it, explain to your employee that he or she is responsible for understanding all of the policies it contains. The handbook should also include a written acknowledgement, to be signed by the employee verifying that he or she has received and read the handbook. When this document is returned, place it in the employee’s personnel file.
Finally, your onboarding process should include any necessary training to get the new hire up to speed. This may be informal, such as a time period of being “shown the ropes” by another employee, or more structured training as necessary, such as classes to master a specific computer program or customer service procedure. Don’t be afraid to invest in training; even if it removes your new employee from the workplace for a time, he or she will return prepared with the knowledge to do the job at hand.
Thank you for taking the time to join us for HR Over Coffee today. To learn more about all aspects of human resources, benefits, and employee management, visit us online at HR360.com. We offer a vast library of forms and documents, including a sample employee handbook, that can help guide you through hiring and new employee orientation.